VA cuts EKG review time to three minutes with mobile system

Cardiologists at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, DC, are testing a BlackBerry-based system that lets them read EKGs and prescribe treatment within three minutes, even when off-site, potentially saving many lives. The American College of Cardiology recommends treatment for cardiac events within 90 minutes of arrival in an emergency room.

Using technology developed by mobile healthcare software vendor mVisium, someone in the ER pages a cardiologist and sends an EKG image both to the physician's smartphone and to the VistA EMR as soon as the test is complete. Upon receiving the page, the cardiologist logs into the VA system to read the EKG image, then can click one button to call the ER with treatment instructions, all within three minutes.

One doctor involved with the test hopes that the VA will adopt the technology nationwide, but that may not happen so soon, since the Department of Veterans Affairs last week put the brakes on 45 IT projects that are either late or over budget, including several in mobile healthcare and telemedicine, as part of a departmentwide review of all 300 of the VA's current IT initiatives.

To learn more about the mobile EKG test:
- check out this OhMyGov blog post
- see which programs the VA is delaying in this Healthcare IT News piece